ARIZONA CARDINALS

Big Red Recap: Cardinals’ playoff hopes all but dashed in loss to Texans

Nov 19, 2017, 3:04 PM | Updated: 4:19 pm

Houston Texans running back D'Onta Foreman (27) is upended by Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tram...

Houston Texans running back D'Onta Foreman (27) is upended by Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tramon Williams (25) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

In a game the Arizona Cardinals could ill-afford to lose, they did just that. And now, whatever hopes the Cardinals had in playing football past December are all but lost.

Despite a career-high three touchdown passes from Blaine Gabbert, the Cardinals dropped a 31-21 decision at the Houston Texans on Sunday.

It’s the first time the Cardinals have lost back-to-back games this season.

Gabbert went 22-of-34 for 257 yards. A pair of fourth-quarter interceptions, though, took a little of the shine off what was a solid Cardinals’ debut.

Two of Gabbert’s touchdown tosses went to Ricky Seals-Jones, while Larry Fitzgerald accounted for the third.

Fitzgerald finished with a team-best nine catches for 91 yards.

The Cardinals (4-6) led 14-10 at halftime and carried a four-point advantage, 21-17, into the fourth quarter, where they were outscored 14-0 — Texans running back D’Onta Foreman accounted for all of those points on two rushing touchdowns.

The Texans (4-6) snapped a three-game losing streak.

THE GOOD

Starting in place of the injured Tyvon Branch, Budda Baker made his presence felt immediately. In the first quarter, he recorded four tackles, including one for a loss, plus downed a punt at the Houston 1-yard line. Then in the second quarter, he had a sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and a second tackle for loss; all on the same play, by the way. Baker also tipped a pass. He finished the game with 12 tackles.

Capitalizing on the Baker strip-sack, Gabbert threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Fitzgerald, tying the game at 7 at the 7:20 mark of the second quarter. On the play, Fitzgerald passed Tony Gonzalez (15,127) for fifth place on the NFL’s all-time list for career receiving yards. In addition, Fitzgerald has now caught touchdown passes (108, the eighth most all-time) from 14 different Cardinals quarterbacks.

Seals-Jones, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Texas A&M and inactive the past four games, had himself quite the afternoon. He caught three passes — the first three of his career — two of which resulted in touchdowns. Going back in Cardinals history, at least to 1950, the only other rookie tight end to have multiple touchdown catches in a single game was Hall of Famer Jackie Smith (2 vs. Pittsburgh, Oct. 13, 1963).

THE BAD

All five of Texans QB Tom Savage’s first-quarter pass attempts were caught. They went for a total of 43 yards. Then his first throw of the second quarter went seven yards for a touchdown to Lamar Miller. It was the game’s first score, and it capped a 12-play, 89-yard drive that saw the Texans twice convert on third down. It also included a huge unnecessary roughness penalty on the Cardinals’ Antoine Bethea for hitting a defenseless receiver.

A field goal going into halftime and a touchdown coming out of halftime put the Texans back in front, 17-14, just four minutes into the third quarter. The touchdown was scored by DeAndre Hopkins, who beat Arizona corner Patrick Peterson for a 28-yard gain down the sideline. Hopkins caught two other passes on the drive, including one for 34 yards to convert a 3rd-and-8. He only had one catch (targeted four times) for 11 yards in the first half.

Entering the game, the Savage-led Texans had scored just two offensive touchdowns in the past two weeks. They had four against the Cardinals. The third, a three-yard touchdown run by Foreman, put the home team back in front, 24-21, at the 13:13 mark of the fourth quarter. Twice on the drive, the Texans converted on third down, including on a 3rd-and-8 when Steven Anderson caught a 22-yard pass.

For the second straight game, the Cardinals had very little success running the football. Adrian Peterson finished with 26 yards on 14 carries. On carry No. 14, he was hit behind the line of scrimmage and dropped for a one-yard loss on what was 4th-and-1 at the Arizona 35. The next play, Foreman ran untouched for a 34-yard touchdown and 31-21 lead at the 6:19 mark of the fourth quarter.

STAT OF THE GAME

8-of-15: The Texans converted 53.3 percent of their third-down opportunities; they went 6-of-10 in the second half.

HE SAID IT

“I regret taking the fourth-down call,” head coach Bruce Arians said. “That and the dropped passes, the negative runs. Not what I anticipated out of our team today.”

NOTED

– Fitzgerald now has at least one reception in 205 consecutive games, the third-longest streak in the history of the NFL.

– Patrick Peterson recorded his first interception of the season and the 21st of his career, the ninth-most in team history.

– Adrian Peterson is averaging less than two yards per carry over the past two games (55 rushing yards on 35 carries).

– Among the Cardinals’ seven inactive players were Andre Ellington (surprise healthy scratch) and Corey Peters (ankle).

UP NEXT

For the Cardinals, it’s three straight home games, starting with a second straight game against a team from the AFC South.

The Cardinals host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:25 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning four hours earlier on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

The Week 12 matchup also marks the return of Calais Campbell, who signed a free-agent contract with the Jaguars in the offseason. Campbell spent nine seasons in Arizona and twice was named to the Pro Bowl.

This is only the fifth meeting between the teams.

The Jaguars won the first two matchups, while the Cardinals have won each of the past two, including most recently in 2013, 27-14.

Jacksonville will be making its first-ever visit to University of Phoenix Stadium.

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